Punter Matt Araiza sends the ball downfield during special teams drills on the last day of the Buffalo Bills training camp at St John Fisher University in Rochester Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

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Reports: Bills won’t play P Matt Araiza in preseason finale

Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza will not play in the team’s final preseason game Friday night against the host Carolina Panthers, multiple reports said.

Araiza and two of his former teammates at San Diego State were accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl at a party last fall in a civil lawsuit filed Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court.

Araiza is the only punter on Buffalo’s roster after it cut Matt Haack earlier this week. Dan Gilleon, the attorney for the accuser referred to as Jane Doe in court documents, said the Bills had knowledge of the accusation against Araiza earlier this summer, before they made that roster decision.

Gilleon has also claimed that the Bills did not perform a thorough investigation after being informed of the allegations.

Gilleon released a diary entry of his client’s recollection of the night. She attended a house party and was approached by someone, allegedly Araiza, who offered her a drink. He then allegedly led her to a room where “several” other men already were, and they raped her for about 90 minutes.

Araiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, has denied that his client raped anybody.

“It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Armstrong told the Los Angeles Times.

Reports said that Araiza traveled to Charlotte with the team for Friday’s preseason game but was not seen on the field with kicker Tyler Bass and long snapper Reid Ferguson before the game. Backup quarterback Matt Barkley warmed up as the punter.

Araiza was a sixth-round pick of the Bills in the 2022 NFL Draft. At the time of the rape, Araiza was in the midst of an unprecedented season and had earned the nickname “Punt God” for his pattern of long booming kicks. He was a unanimous All-American and won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter.

The Bills have only addressed the accusation via a statement Thursday, in which they said they “conducted a thorough examination of this matter” and would have no other comment with the civil case ongoing civil.

–Field Level Media

Aaron Rodgers gives a thumbs-down during practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Aug. 16.

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Packers to sit Aaron Rodgers, starters in preseason finale

Rookie inside linebacker Quay Walker is the lone starter scheduled to appear for the Green Bay Packers in their preseason finale this week.

Aaron Rodgers will again slide through the preseason with only sideline observer duties in what head coach Matt LaFleur said was a “risk vs reward” decision in settling on a playing time plan against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Knowing it’s a long season, 17 games,” LaFleur said Tuesday morning. “I think early on we get stressed with travel as well. I’m just trying to factor in everything.”

Rookie second-round pick Christian Watson, a receiver activated from the physically unable to perform list, might also see the field with Jordan Love making another start at quarterback.

The Packers lost the regular-season opener last season to the Saints in a game that was moved to Jacksonville, and LaFleur wondered aloud whether some of the team’s mistakes could’ve been avoided with more preseason reps.

“I think there are a lot of lessons that you take from those experiences that, hopefully, having gone through that will help us avoid maybe a similar situation,” he said. “But I look at our team, I think we’re in a much different place.”

The Packers kick off the 2022 regular season at the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 11.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) warms up prior to the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux out with knee injury

New York Giants rookie linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, suffered a knee injury during the second quarter of Sunday’s preseason matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound Thibodeaux was being examined in the locker room. He was a first-team All-American at Oregon last season and a third-teamer in 2020.

Thibodeaux had seven sacks for the Ducks last season and 19 sacks in his three-year career at the school.

–Field Level Media

Aug 16, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during training camp at State Farm Stadium.

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Cardinals’ J.J. Watt out for two preseason games with COVID

Star defensive end J.J. Watt has tested positive for COVID-19, the Arizona Cardinals said ahead of their preseason game against the visiting Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.

Watt was ruled out not only for the matchup against the Ravens, but for the Cardinals’ preseason finale Saturday at the Tennessee Titans.

The NFL stopped its official COVID-19 protocol in March but still follows CDC guidelines that call for five days in isolation after a positive test.

Watt, 33, is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time first-team All-Pro who is entering his second season with the Cardinals. He played just seven games in his first season with the team before suffering a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery, though he made it back for Arizona’s loss in the wild-card round to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

The longtime Houston Texan has played in 135 career games (all starts) and has 102 sacks, 26 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries and 547 tackles.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (right) greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left) after a NFL game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

QB1, done: Starters sit preseason openers

Starting quarterbacks are mastering the sideline route this preseason.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Mac Jones of the Patriots are the latest starting quarterbacks to be informed they won’t play in preseason openers this week, extending a trend that goes well beyond the majority of No. 1 quarterbacks in the league.

“Josh Allen will not play in our preseason game on Saturday,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said Thursday morning.

Jones is out for the Patriots in Thursday’s opener against the Giants, who already determined Daniel Jones will play a limited number of snaps with the first-team offense.

The Ravens are sitting Lamar Jackson on Thursday when the Tennessee Titans roll into Baltimore. Ticketmaster listed 100-level seats for the game for $20 and the upper levels offered $5 tickets.

Sitting top-tier starters in preseason games is not new.

Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been on the field for a live snap in a Packers preseason game since 2018.

“I don’t see any benefit to it,” Rodgers said of potentially taking the field for one series. “I definitely don’t see any benefit to playing one series. If we’re going to play, we should play and play a quarter, a couple of series, two to three series. Just suiting up for four plays, to me, is a waste.”

Tom Brady won’t play when the Buccaneers face the Miami Dolphins after logging six snaps in Tampa Bay’s preseason opener in 2021.

One known exception is 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, who was informed he’ll start Friday against the Packers but sit out the following week, when San Francisco takes on the Minnesota Vikings. All of San Francisco’s starters are expected to play “at least some” in the third preseason game (vs. Houston), which is customary across the NFL.

Lance, entering his second season, is taking the reins of the offense from Jimmy Garoppolo.

“He’s had good days and had real rough days,” coach Kyle Shanahan said of his 22-year-old quarterback. “I’ve been real pleased with Trey and all three (quarterbacks).”

Matt Ryan of the Indianapolis Colts will also play up to one quarter Saturday against the Bills.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) participates in training camp on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

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Aaron Rodgers: Brief preseason appearances ‘waste of time’

The Green Bay Packers are undecided about whether to have Aaron Rodgers take some preseason snaps, but the two-time reigning MVP knows where he stands on the issue.

Rodgers told reporters Tuesday that he sees no benefit to playing in the preseason, something he has not done since 2018.

“I think it’s kind of a no-win situation to the outside of the building,” Rodgers said. “If somebody gets hurt: ‘I can’t believe they played our guys.’ But if we go out and have a stinker (to start the season): ‘I can’t believe they didn’t play them.’

“You’ve just got to do what’s best for the squad, and (head coach) Matt (LaFleur) is going to do that. He’s going to lean on the leaders of the football team and if he feels like we need to go out and play, we’ll go out and play. But I don’t want to just go out and play three plays. That, to me, is a waste of time.”

The Packers will start Jordan Love in their preseason opener Friday against the San Francisco 49ers, LaFleur announced, adding that a decision about Rodgers’ playing time had yet to be made.

The star quarterback said he was not speaking about it Tuesday in order to “send a message to” LaFleur, because he’d already communicated his opinion to the coach.

“I definitely don’t see any benefit to playing one series,” Rodgers said. “If we’re going to play, we should play a quarter, a couple of series, two to three series. Just suiting up for four plays, to me, is a waste.”

LaFleur said Rodgers’ stance “stimulates conversation” among the staff about how to approach the preseason. He added that Rodgers won’t play Week 2 of the preseason against the New Orleans Saints, leaving open the possibility he gets in some work in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“We’ll probably look at it after New Orleans,” LaFleur said. “So don’t ask me for a couple weeks.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Saints helmets during the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Cards-Saints start time moved up due to tropical storm

The New Orleans Saints moved up the start time of Saturday’s preseason game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals with respect to Tropical Storm Ida.

The game will now begin at 1 p.m. ET, seven hours ahead of the initially scheduled start time.

The Saints said they came to that decision in order for fans to “make proper and safe preparations regarding the potential landfall of Hurricane Ida and following consultation and agreement with City of New Orleans officials, the National Weather Service, Homeland Security and the NFL.”

The National Hurricane Center expects Ida to become a hurricane by the time it reaches the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.

Ida is expected to make landfall on Sunday, 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina did the same in Louisiana.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass during a training camp practice at the Paul Brown stadium practice facility in downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp

Bengals hold QB Joe Burrow out of another preseason game

The Cincinnati Bengals kept quarterback Joe Burrow out of preseason action for the second straight week, even though he lobbied to play.

Cincinnati chose to keep its franchise quarterback, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2020, out of harm’s way during its Friday exhibition game against the host Washington Football Team.

Burrow also wasn’t used during last week’s preseason opener, a 19-14 Bengals win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Backups Brandon Allen and Kyle Shurmur played under center in that game for Cincinnati, and Allen started Friday’s game as well.

The Bengals also held out several other starters and contributors including defensive end Joseph Ossai and newly signed cornerback Eli Apple.

As a rookie in 2020, Burrow started 10 games for Cincinnati and threw for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions with a 65.3 percent completion rate. The Bengals went 2-7-1 in his starts.

Burrow has his sights set on the preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 29.

“I’ve been lobbying. Just saying what plays I might like against Miami, third downs, first couple plays,” Burrow said. “Just throw some plays out there and put them in (the coaches’) head. I think (playing) would help; however many plays I would get, I think it would help.”

–Field Level Media

May 25, 2021; Santa Clara, CA, USA;  San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (5) and Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throw the football during Organized Team Activities at San Francisco 49ers Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance to replace Jimmy Garoppolo in preseason opener

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will start the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason opener this weekend and play one series before giving way to heralded rookie Trey Lance against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, would play the remainder of the first half, barring a quick three-and-out on Saturday.

“We’re trying to start our starters for about one series,” Shanahan told KNBR on Thursday. “You hope it’s not a three and out, except on defense. On offense, you hope you can go down and score in six plays or something like that and get those guys out.

“I’m not playing every starter, but there’s some starters I want to keep out for health reasons and things like that. But most of our guys, I plan on playing, and we’ll get them out quickly. Once they’re out, I’m hoping Trey can finish out that first half. We’ll see how many plays he gets and what the situations are.”

Lance is the heir apparent to Garoppolo, who has been deemed the 49ers’ starting quarterback this season by Shanahan.

Garoppolo, 29, is 22-8 as the 49ers’ starter in the regular season, but injuries — a torn ACL, a sprained throwing shoulder and two high ankle sprains — have limited the quarterback. Acquired from the New England Patriots on Oct. 31, 2017, for a 2018 second-round draft pick, Garoppolo started just 25 games over the past three seasons as is entering the fourth year of a five-year, $137.5 million contract.

In 31 games (30 starts) in San Francisco, Garoppolo has completed 67.5 percent (596 of 883) of his passes for 7,352 yards with 46 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

Lance brings to the 49ers a resume that includes 19 college games at FCS program North Dakota State. All but three of those games were in 2019, when Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions, while running for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He led the Bison to a 28-20 win over James Madison in the FCS title game after the 2019 season.

The 49ers finished last season with a 6-10 record and open the 2021 season Sept. 12 at Detroit.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Browns won 48-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame game kicks off NFL preseason Aug. 5

NFL preseason games — canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic — return this summer, beginning with the Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5.

The NFL released the preseason schedule on Thursday.

The Hall of Fame Game kicks off a slate of three games for each team, down from four in previous seasons. The extra game has been tacked on to the regular season, with each team playing 17 games instead of 16.

In another Week 1 preseason game of interest, fans will get their first glance at the revamped Jaguars, led by new coach Urban Meyer and No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, when the Cleveland Browns visit Jacksonville on Aug. 14.

The preseason wraps up Aug. 29.

The Cowboys will be featured in the regular-season opener, as well, when they visit the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 9.

The 2021 preseason week-by-week schedule, with all times Eastern:

WEEK 1
Thursday, Aug. 5
Pittsburgh and Dallas (Canton, Ohio), 8 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 12
Washington at New England, 7:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 13
Tennessee at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Dallas at Arizona, 10 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 14
Miami at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Denver at Minnesota, 4 p.m.
New Orleans at Baltimore, 7 p.m.
Cleveland at Jacksonville, 7 p.m.
New York Jets at New York Giants, 7:30 p.m.
Cincinnati at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Houston at Green Bay, 8 p.m.
Kansas City at San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Seattle at Las Vegas, 9 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams, 10 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 15
Carolina at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

WEEK 2
Thursday, Aug. 19
New England at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 20
Kansas City at Arizona, 8 p.m.
Cincinnati at Washington, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 21
Buffalo at Chicago, 1 p.m.
New York Jets at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.
Baltimore at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Atlanta at Miami, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.
Tennessee at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Houston at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Indianapolis at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Las Vegas at Los Angeles Rams, 10 p.m.
Denver at Seattle, 10 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 22
New York Giants at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 23
Jacksonville at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

WEEK 3
Friday, Aug. 27
Indianapolis at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia at New York Jets, 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Kansas City, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 28
Green Bay at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Baltimore at Washington, 6 p.m.
Chicago at Tennessee, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Houston, 8 p.m.
Arizona at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at Denver, 9:05 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle, 10 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 29
Jacksonville at Dallas, 1 p.m.
Miami at Cincinnati, 4 p.m.
Las Vegas at San Francisco, 4 p.m.
New England at New York Giants, 6 p.m.
Cleveland at Atlanta, 8 p.m.

–Field Level Media